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British airports firm BAA says snow chaos cost 24 million Pounds

Flights canceled after fresh New York blizzard
New York (AFP) Jan 12, 2011 - Hundreds of flights were canceled in New York's airports on Wednesday after the second major snow storm this winter pounded the northeastern United States. Hundreds of international and internal flights were canceled and postponed in the New York and Boston airports, but delays were expected to be shorter than during the Christmas storm that paralyzed the area for nearly a week. New York City's streets nevertheless remained open as hundreds of plows were quick to respond to the storm which dumped more than eight inches (20 centimeters) of snow in the New York area.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday morning lifted a weather emergency declared late Tuesday as schools remained open and public transportation operated largely on schedule. Bloomberg was heavily criticized after a December 26 blizzard paralyzed New York, causing major disruptions in airports and blocking the city's streets for days. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick however on Wednesday declared a state of emergency after warnings that the storm could dump as much as 30 inches of snow in western Massachusetts in the coming hours.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 12, 2011
British airports operator BAA said on Wednesday that the recent harsh wintry weather, which sparked travel chaos, had cost it about 24 million pounds (29 million euros, $38 million).

The Spanish-owned firm, which operates six airports in Britain, was widely criticised over its handling of the freezing weather conditions that gripped much of Britain over the crucial Christmas holiday period.

"All of BAA's airports were affected by severe weather to some extent in December and the resulting disruption is estimated to have affected profits across BAA ... by approximately 24 million pounds," it said in a statement.

BAA operates London's Heathrow and Stansted airports, as well as Southampton in southern England and Aberdeen in Scotland.

Heathrow was particularly hard hit by the winter travel chaos.

Heavy snow and thick ice all but closed the busiest international passenger air hub in the world late last month, stranding hundreds and exacting a humble apology from BAA chief executive Colin Matthews.

"The approximate financial cost by airport, measured in terms of the reduction in profit, was 19 million pounds at Heathrow, 1.0 million pounds at Stansted and 4.0 million pounds across the group's four other UK airports of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton," BAA said.

"The reduction in profits partly reflects lower revenues, principally in terms of lost aeronautical income driven by reduced passenger traffic."

The company, which was bought by Spanish construction group Ferrovial in 2006, also said overall passenger numbers plunged by 11 percent compared with December 2009 as a result of the snow.

BAA has meanwhile set up an independent inquiry into the poor performance of its Heathrow operations last month. The findings are due in March.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the National Air Traffic Services said the total number of flights in British airspace fell by 6.6 percent in December.

NATS said the number of flights over 2010 sank by 4.3 percent, blaming the severe travel chaos sparked by the snowy weather and the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in April.

"The effect of the severe winter weather and the ash cloud contributed to a 4.3 percent decrease in the number of aircraft in UK controlled airspace last year," NATS said.

"The reduction can be attributed in part to the impact of the freezing spells in November and December -- both in the UK and abroad -- and the volcanic ash cloud in April and May."

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